Sunday, 29 March 2015


(SIS = Secret Intelligence Service or Swedish Internal Security.)

I have frequently compared Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization with other science fiction future histories. However, its Dominic Flandry sub-series can also be compared with other spy fiction. In the latter genre, my four authorities are Ian Fleming, John Le Carre and Fredrick Forsyth (for both, see here) and Stieg Larsson.

Correspondent Sean M Brooks found a prima facie contradiction in the Flandry series. See here. Although the Terran Empire had acquired intelligence about the telepathic abilities of the Merseian agent, Aycharaych, the top Terran agent Flandry was later completely taken aback to learn about these abilities from Aycharaych himself. The "earlier" novel, in which the Empire acquired this intelligence, was written later. Therefore, arguably, the "later" story should then have been rewritten to edit out Flandry's total surprise.

Sean later came up with a solution: Terran Intelligence was so obsessed with secrecy and in particular with preventing the Merseians from finding out what they knew that they even prevented their own field operatives from knowing it!

Larsson shows us one section of Swedish Intelligence concealing itself from all others. The SIS Section for Special Analysis (SSA):

has a handful of members and a budget so small that it seems to cover only some routine matter;
conceals its offices on one entire floor of a residential block nowhere near SIS HQ and even conceals its very existence from the current chief of SIS;
has some agents covertly working in the SIS outer office unknown to each other;
uses unauthorized surveillance and phone taps to spy on all SIS personnel, however high in the organization;
tried unsuccessfully to prove that a Social Democratic Prime Minister was a KGB agent;
also spent years investigating other Social Democratic politicians;
contributed to forming and funding the "Democratic Alliance" organization described by its critics as extremely right-wing;
employs three members of this organization and recruited a fourth through it;
employs this recruit to reinforce SSA investigation of foreign citizens as against Immigration Division;
answers only to the assistant chief of the Secretariat of the Security Police, an individual who has been on the SSA staff for ten years;
handles a Russian defector and covers up his criminal activities, silencing one of his victims by getting a psychiatrist to diagnose her as insane.

It is to be hoped that Terran Intelligence is free from such practices!


Ketlan said...

I wouldn't bank on it.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks for the nice mention of me! And, while I too hope the Terran Naval Intelligence Corps is at least MOSTLY free of the abusive nonsense you described, I have to agree with Ketlan, abuses will sometimes creep in. One example being how, in the confusion of the disputed succession and civil war following the death of Josip, Merseian agents or traitors recruited by the Roidhunate's Intelligence, infiltrated Terran Intelligence. It was they who were behind the framing on false chareges, a deliberately botched and needless hypnoprobing, and illegal selling of Kossara Vymezal into slavery. With the idea of goading her uncle the Gospodar of Dennitza into rebelling against the Empire (in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS).

True, all this was done by agents of, or traitors working for Merseia, not by loyal but incompetent or corrupt officials. But the fact Merseia was even able to do that was still a very bad sign.

I think I've suggested this before, but one seres of spy novels I recommend to you, when you have time, is the late William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Blackford Oakes books. I esp. recommend the first two volumes: SAVING THE QUEEN and STAINED GLASS.

Glory to the Emperor! Sean